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After REM's somewhat ambitious 1996 album, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, failed to light up the charts, you might have figured the band would return to the rock-solid bombast of Monster or the consumer-friendly pop of Green. But REM have enough cash not to worry about commercial failure, and they've already been to the top of the mountain, so for now they'd rather explore its lush valleys and secret caves. Up is an atmospheric journey as impressionistic as Enya and as evocative as John Barry. Some critics have compared it with the band's delicate and emotionally revealing gem Automatic for the People, but Up is more ambitious and creative. Sure, most of the songs are pastoral, but they're undercut with drama and sonic experimentation. The melodies are generally spare, the beats sparse. Guitars flicker in and out, providing tension and dynamics, while quivering strings, layered keyboards, and washes of feedback colour the songs like textured lines of paint in an oil portrait. The only blatant pop song is the single "Daysleeper". The rest of the album ebbs and flows, each song a separate component of a complete artistic expression. The sound may be influenced by guitarist Peter Buck's cinematic jazz side project Tuatara or by Michael Stipe's celluloid excursions, but its source doesn't matter. What's important is that more than a decade after their sell-by date, REM continue to challenge and inspire. Things are definitely looking up. --Jon Wiederhorn
Top Customer Reviews
"Airportman" - Delivered in more of a murmur than R.E.M.'s early days, this is like a test song being whispered in your ear. Strange and slow paced, laying the carpet for what follows.
"Lotus" - Actually a very well accomplished work of art, but it is a pop song and perhaps its mix of cuteness and darkness is a bit too awkward for some ears. Catchy beat, about drug use.
"Suspicion" - Perhaps the most beautiful song about a night of cheap meaningless sex ever written. It's a love song about a perfect stranger, once upon a time. It is enchanting to listen to.
"Hope" - Some think this one's about ex-drummer Bill Berry, but it's hard to say for sure. About going out in the world in search of something more.
"At My Most Beautiful" - Innocent, touching piano-assisted little love song. Stipe was proud of it because it avoids cliché. One of my personal favorites.
"The Apologist" - Doesn't stand out much and many would probably find this one annoying, Stipe constantly singing "So sorry, so sorry, so sorry..." But I like it and it seems to find its way back into my head from time to time.Read more ›
Yes, its a down album. Yes its slow. Yes, but the only upbeat song is the only bad song on the album. That being Lotus. Lotus shouldn't be on here. Stipes vocals are painful on the ear!
Lotus aside, this album is absolutely fantastic. It holds many a memory of my last 2 years of being a batchelor. I literally used to come home tanked up with Tiger beer (I used to live in Singapore) and sit there blasting Diminished out of the stereo. Even when I play it now (over 5 years later) I get a taste for beer. Trouble is, the only place I can blast it is in the car and I end up driving to the pub.
This is a must for all REM fans - well, if you are a fan you will have it in your collection anyway, I assume.
Beautiful songs like Suspicion, You're In The Air and At My Most Beautiful cannot be denied! OK, the drum machine is dated but thats the charm of it all. I dont think the use of those old organ drums is pretensious (spell?) but charming.
Saying all this, I love Monster too. I saw them play in Singapore on the Monster tour and some of the best songs were from that album. You just have to take a drive when you play Crush With Eyeliner.
So far as UP goes, I would strongly suggest dissapointed fans play it a little while longer - maybe mix the songs in with a few of your favourites and you may change your view.
At first the feel of this effort is a bit cold and unappealing, but it gets more interesting after a couple of repeated listens. It`s a worthwile experience, providing the discovery of new textures, contrasts and details.
"Daysleeper" is probably the catchiest song here, preserving the melodic pop quality of some former singles. The rest of the compositions have a colder, stranger quality to them, offering complex soundscapes. Some great moments include the sublime "Walk Unafraid", the twisted and experimental "Hope" or the gorgeous "Falls to Climb", which can be considered three of the band`s best songs.
"Up" is an interesting album worth checking, presenting R.E.M. in a fertile creative process and avoiding their more mainstream, commercial and immediate sound. Recommended.
For the casual R.E.M. fan, there's classic material like "Airportman" and "You're In the Air". Quiet, lyrical odes that are unmistakably the work of Stipe and company. Slightly more upbeat are encouraging songs like "Walk Unafraid" and "Hope" (which is my second most quotable song from this album). And downbeat laments like "Sad Professor" and "Why Not Smile" offer hope to the hopeless.
Granted, at times it can read a lot like one of those self-help seminars ("I hate where I wound up", "pick myself up"), but its rock at its most positive. Maybe with a different band, it would be unlistenable, but with the ensemble hard at work, even the most schmaltzy material sounds incredible. Personally, I hate uber-romantic songs, but I can't get enough of "At My Most Beautiful." And its not all straightforward stuff, either. "Parakeet" is a weird, weird piece, but its beautiful lyrically. And then there's "Lotus", an amazing completely nonsensical piece with a chorus that hisses itself out, and reminiscent of another R.E.M. track: "Losing My Religion".
Most recent customer reviews
"Up" is misnomer -- the tone of the album is not really "up"; don't expect an album full of of happy, upbeat songs like "It's the End of the World As We... Read morePublished on May 22 2004 by Reviewer
Up is one of my favorite R.E.M. albums.The songs have a chilly,wintery atmospheric feeling to them.Some of R.E.M.'s
most moving,truly beautiful songs are here. Read more
and I don't even like REM's other albums!!!
I think this album ranks up there with say Rubber Soul or Aja as just an all time classic album that is a great achievement in... Read more
This album was for a long time a victim of "Sequelitis" for me: a follow-up to an album I really loved by a relatively new band I've just discovered that wasn't really as... Read morePublished on Sept. 25 2003 by Kurt Lennon
What a strange record: "Airport Man" is one of those great opening songs, slow and inconspicuous, the kind of song that unfolds itself gradually, revealing beneath the... Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2003 by David Vinson
Thats one thing I can say about this album. After 5 years, it still sounds great! I had taken a pretty long break from it. Read morePublished on Aug. 28 2003
This is a great album. Most of the songs have very nice melodies and are overall very interesting. Songs like Lotus, Hope, The Apologist, and Diminished are always fun and relaxing... Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2003
My friends and I often have many differences over which album is really better- new adventures or Up ( at this point in time None of us had heard Automatic or Monster; I'm from... Read morePublished on June 16 2003 by sumit sharma